Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205
02/16/2021 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 43-ELECTIONS, VOTING, CAMPAIGN FINANCE 3:34:48 PM CHAIR SHOWER announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 43, "An Act relating to campaign finance and initiatives; relating to elections and voting; and relating to unlawful interference with voting." [The committee adopted CSSB 43(STA), work order 32-LS0253\I, on 2/2/21] He listed the individuals who were available to answer questions. 3:35:10 PM SENATOR REINBOLD joined the committee. 3:35:41 PM CHAIR SHOWER opened public testimony on SB 43. 3:36:14 PM NANCY BIRD, representing self, Cordova, Alaska, stated general support for the concept of SB 43 to address loopholes in campaign finance laws. She withheld complete support because she understood that the language in SB 43 might not be constitutional. She therefore encouraged a rewrite of the bill to ensure it is constitutional. 3:36:49 PM CHAIR SHOWER found no one else who wished to testify and closed public testimony on SB 43. He reminded the public of the opportunity to submit testimony in writing to email@example.com. CHAIR SHOWER asked Mr. Whitt to address the question about the constitutionality of SB 43. 3:37:21 PM BUDDY WHITT, Staff, Senator Shelley Hughes, Juneau, Alaska, assured the committee that Legislative Legal Services did not raise constitutional issues with SB 43. He further pointed out that there have been no constitutional issues raised about Ballot Measure 2 that voters passed, and SB 43 simply expands certain provisions of that measure. He expressed confidence that the bill passes constitutional scrutiny as written, but said he would follow up with Legislative Legal Services to make sure that was accurate. SENATOR KAWASAKI said he too considered the constitutionality of the bill. He advised that [Legislative Legal Services] indicated it would draft a memo but it would not be available for some time. He suggested the Judiciary Committee, the next committee of referral, might address the concerns further. CHAIR SHOWER asked him to forward the [forthcoming memo] to his office and he would forward it to the Judiciary Committee. 3:38:55 PM SENATOR REINBOLD observed that the testifier did not cite a reference. CHAIR SHOWER asked if there were any questions. 3:39:39 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI said he had questions for Heather Hebdon with the Alaska Public Offices Commission and Cori Mills who represents the Office of the Attorney General. He asked Ms. Hebdon if she reads the new subsection (s) to delete the references to candidates in all future elections. He questioned how that would affect APOC's work. 3:40:55 PM HEATHER HEBDON, Director, Alaska Public Offices Commission APOC, Anchorage, Alaska, agreed that the new subsection (s) would bring campaign activities of ballot measure groups who are making independent expenditures under the same reporting regime as those making independent expenditures and candidates' election activities. Thus, both the contributor and the receiving entity would be required to disclose contributions made and contributions received within 24 hours. She acknowledged that APOC staff would be affected by this increase in filer activity and needed education. SENATOR KAWASAKI asked how the office would address this anticipated increased work volume. MS. HEBDON said she was not able to speak to the specific impact because it is an unknown at this point, but the daily reporting for some groups will increase filing and require more oversight from staff. She noted that the Anchorage municipal election would be the first election where this measure is in effect. She also acknowledged that the regulations were still a work in progress. CHAIR SHOWER asked Mr. Whitt to address Senator Kawasaki's question. 3:44:00 PM MR. WHITT stated that SB 43 targets Dark Money by ensuring that Dark Money provisions regarding donations to and from independent expenditure groups apply to ballot measures under the same guidelines as they do for candidates. 3:45:09 PM CHAIR SHOWER summarized his understanding that SB 43 essentially applies the same rules of engagement to ballot measures as Ballot Measure 2 is applying to candidate campaigns. MR. WHITT agreed and wondered whether that was the reason for the constitutional question. He reminded the members that once a ballot measure is passed, it cannot be changed for two years. He reiterated that SB 43 does not seek to change Ballot Measure 2; it expands the measure by adding provisions. He expressed interest in seeing the memo Senator Kawasaki mentioned because Legislative Legal had verbalized that an expansion was allowed and would not be considered a change. He said it would be appropriate for the next committee of referral to look at this further; he welcomed a discussion about the difference between an expansion and a change in a ballot measure. 3:46:35 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI questioned Ms. Hebdon's statement that SB 43 would apply to the 2021 Anchorage municipal election, because it would not become effective until 90 days after it was signed into law. MR. WHITT replied that was his understanding as well. 3:47:26 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI asked if Ms. Mills could discuss the question about expanding an existing ballot proposition that voters just passed versus rescinding it. 3:47:46 PM CORI MILLS, Acting Deputy Attorney General, Civil Division, Department of Law, Juneau, Alaska, stated that the Alaska Constitution does not allow a ballot measure to be repealed for 2 years, but it can be amended. She said there are court cases that describe the difference between a repeal and an amendment. This includes a qualitative analysis that goes to the heart of the purpose of the ballot measure and whether the core purpose is being repealed. She said she had not done the analysis as to whether an expansion would be considered an amendment versus a repeal. She reiterated that if the core provisions that the people passed are still in place and unaltered, that would fall on the side of an amendment to the law rather than a repeal and that would be okay. 3:49:18 PM CHAIR SHOWER asked her to prepare the analysis for the next committee of referral. MS. MILLS agreed to do so. CHAIR SHOWER found no further questions and solicited a motion to move the bill from committee. 3:49:59 PM SENATOR REINBOLD moved to report CSSB 43(STA), work order 32- LS0253\I, from committee. [The motion did not include individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).] 3:50:19 PM CHAIR SHOWER found no objection and CSSB 43(STA) was reported from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.